4 ways Resident Evil HD tops the 1996 original (and 3 ways it fails)

Capcom’s Resident Evil HD is more than just a pretty makeover of the classic survival horror zombie-blaster. It’s actually a whole new game in many respect, implementing many new features as well as reintroducing content that was cut from the 1996 original as a result of hardware limitations. 

With the game now soiling sofas throughout the PlayStation community for the first time since its GameCube debut back in 2002, we decided to dig deeper into the game’s innards and dish out 5 definitive reasons it improves upon the genre-defining original. 

That’s not all though. In some ways, Resident Evil HD doesn’t quite measure up to the PlayStation version, and we explain why. With that said, grab a First-Aid Spray and your Shotgun and come with us as we scrutinize some classic Resi action.

Spoilers ahoy, matey!

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First, we’ll see how it betters the original…


Chief among the new additions to the Resident Evil remake is the new sub-plot detailing Lisa Trevor, a young girl experimented upon by Umbrella in their quest to extra the ultimate biological weapon. As a result of decades being injected with numerous viral agents, Lisa transformed into a near-indestructible creature, who now freely roams the Spencer Estate and its grounds. Lisa’s backstory is also supported by diaries left behind by her mother, Jessica, and her father, George, the architect who built the mansion for Lord Spencer. It’s a particularly grisly tale, and despite all reference to the Trevors being removed from the original release, it’s back in the remake. 


Back in the days of the original Resident Evil, if you were grabbed by zombie, the best you could do was hammer away at the buttons to push your assailant off you before they take one too many chomps out of your throat. With remake, you have the ability to fight back while grabbed, thanks to defensive daggers, stun-guns, and flash grenades. These aren’t limited to zombies either; Chris and Jill can employ their use on just about anything that has a grappling attack, from dogs, hunters, to even the Tyrant. It’s amusing staggering a zombie in the head with a dagger, only to blow its noggin’ off with the Shotgun and retrieve the weapon amidst its blood remains. Likewise, shoving a flash grenade into a hunter’s mouth and shooting it, blowing off the creature’s head, is a visceral and satisfying tactic. 


The original Spencer Mansion has gone down in history as one of gaming’s most iconic locations, but the remake version blows its predecessor out of the water. Aside from looking lusher than Lara Croft in her birthday suit, remake’s house of horrors is packed full of new areas, including new corridors and rooms, two new graveyards, a spooky forest path, a cabin, Lisa’s twisted lair, and much more. These all help flesh out the game that much more, giving players far greater opportunity to explore while feeling less restricting than the 1996 edition. We also get to see Raccoon Forest for the first time, and being chased by a Crimson Head through the winding paths and moonlit trees is truly as quintessentially Resi as it can get on current-gen hardware. 


Resi has always been known for its obtuse riddles, although looking back, the 1996 version hasn’t really gone down as offering something approaching the realms of overly challenging. Latter games have done better, and the remake is among the best of the bunch. Yep, Capcom’s shiny remaster completely rearranges existing puzzles, and also introduces a host of new ones, many of which require you to take advantage of the ‘examine’ functionality in your inventory. There’s much more thinking required on the player’s part, as well as reading up on clues dotted throughout the mansion and memorizing key areas and trinkets. All in all, remake pushes puzzles to the forefront of the action once again—and Resi’s better for it. 


…Still, that doesn’t mean remake is perfect. Here’s how it misses the mark. 


One of the most memorable elements of the classic PlayStation version of Resi was its cheese-tastic dialogue, something which has sadly been replaced by the remake in an attempt to modernise and remove some of the more cringe-worthy performances. Sure, some of it works, but in replacing the corny voice overs of the original, it loses some of its undeniable charm, and rather than coming off in a ‘so good its bad’ way like the original, some of the offending material in the remake is just plain…well, rubbish. Give us a ‘Jill Sandwich’ or ‘Master of Unlocking’ over some of Barry’s recorded dialogue any day of the week.


Yes, as hard as it is to believe, the original Resi actually gave players more choice in terms of story paths to follow. In the remake, they’ve trimmed down many encounters, or outright replaced them. Many of the ‘Yes or No’ choices gamers faced in 1996 are no longer here, or they crop up somewhere else and aren’t nearly as effective. Remember when Barry asked you to go with him in the tunnels to kick some hunter arse? That’s gone. Similarly Chris can only encounter Rebecca in one location now, whereas before he could meet her in the storeroom and even had the option of taking her with him or not. Sure, character deaths still happen, but they’re easy to spot coming, whereas before, you were forced to make choices that weren’t necessarily clear as to how they would affect things later down the line. Overall, remake’s narrative lacks the narrative branches its predecessor offered, and things are now trimmed down so you encounter them as standard, rather than discovering them based on how you play. Some of the new sequences are full of errors, too. Wesker can fall into the pit when he and Chris battle Lisa, but when Chris encounters him in the lab about 25 minutes later for him to reveal his dastardly plans, he says nothing about his captain’s supposed demise. Similarly, it’s incomprehensible that Jill wouldn’t tell Barry about Enrico being shot to death after meeting him only minutes after the Bravo Team leader kicked the bucket. As Barry would say, ‘What IS this?’


This is probably the most egregious issue with the remake. The bosses in the original version, particularly the Giant Snake and Plant 42, were a force to be reckoned with. Here, they’re shadows of their former selves, requiring considerably less ammunition to dispatch, and don’t pose nearly as much of a threat as they used to. Sure, Resi 1996’s version of the snake now looks like a socket puppet with teeth, but it was a deadly enemy, proving much quicker than its high-definition cousin, and far more deadly to boot, able to mangle you with ease by coiling around your character. Not only that, but it could soak up an alarming amount of punishment, even from the Grenade Launcher; the fact Resi HD lets you beat it with a pistol/shotgun combination if you’re careful is a testament to how weak it is now. Similarly, Plant 42 has been weakened considerably, and providing you have the right weaponry, takes a laughable 3 shots to cripple it. Even Tyrant isn’t as fearsome as he used to be, and we’re talking on the hard difficulty here, people. When you compare remake’s bosses to the original version, or indeed something like William Birkin or Nemesis, they pale in comparison.  

Resident Evil HD is out now on PS4, PS3, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.